Jerry and I were relaxing in our guest room at the Sofitel Lyon Bellecour after a day of sightseeing. We looked up from the bed at two framed pieces of art on the wall.
“It’s a dress,” said Jerry, the psychiatrist/photographer, pointing to the one on the right side of the room.
“Of course not,” said the psychologist/journalist. “It’s a scarf.”
“Don’t you see it?” he said.
And the banter went back and forth. The only thing we could agree upon was that the hanging was a beautiful piece of colorful silk and that it could easily serve as a Rorschach test.
That our hotel was silk-themed shouldn’t have come as a surprise to either of us.
Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France but is also called the City of Silk. In 1466, to divert silk imports from Italy and Asia, King Louis XI made Lyon the center of the silk trade. By the 19th century, there were 14,000 looms and thousands of silk weavers in the city.
They worked primarily in the Croix-Rousse district, famous for its covered passageways (called traboules) that enabled the workers to carry fabric from place to place without it getting wet from rain. Another remnant of that time, many of the buildings have exceptionally high ceilings that were necessary to accommodate the oversized looms.
It was here that Lyonnais Joseph-Marie Jacquard (yes, that Jacquard) invented the programmable loom that not only influenced silk weaving but is said, by some, to have been a forerunner to the modern programmable computer.
Today, Lyon is still the home of Hermés scarves.
Just as silk pervades the city, it also runs through the artwork and interior design of the hotel. For example the walls of the Light Bar in the elegantly furnished lobby are covered with a beautiful silk fresco. Each guestroom has original wall hangings, as did ours, made of combed silk.
More than a business hotel
When this five-star hotel opened in 1969, it was the largest in the city—with 164 guest rooms and three apartment suites—serving an international clientele. Since that time, many of the rooms have been updated and refreshed both in terms of their contemporary décor and also with technological upgrades such as LCD TVs and wireless broadband connections.
Travelers often have the mistaken impression that a business hotel doesn’t work for tourists. Au contraire. The short-stay repeat business visitors who make up the bulk of the guests at Sofitel Lyon Bellecour have come to depend on the functionality and reliability of this hotel, something that is also appreciated by tourists.
It has a premier location in the heart of Lyon accessible to public transportation and is within easy walking distance to the Place Bellecour (the largest pubic square in Europe), the shopping district, the Perrache railway station, and many restaurants and bouchons. Situated on Quai Docteur Gailleton, it is only steps away from the Rhone River and the iconic Flower Tree Sculpture beside its banks that welcomes visitors to the city.
Many guest rooms and public spaces have expansive river views. The hotel also has a new So Fit well-being and fitness area, and offers paid parking. The staff was uniformly responsive and efficient. We especially came to rely on the expert advice and suggestions of Sebastian, one of the knowledgeable concierges, who proudly wears the Clefs d’Or.
Our room, #329, was comfortably furnished with a king-size bed, contemporary furnishings and a wonderful view. There was coffee and tea service in the room as well as a minibar stocked with complementary water and soft drinks. Twice daily room service was exceptional.
However, the pièce de résistance was the huge, oversized shower with a rain shower head in the bathroom covered with taupe-colored lava stone.
Other hotel amenities
The hotel has two full-service restaurants: The Silk Brasserie (which I’ve previously written about on More Time To Travel) and the Michelin-starred Les Trois Dômes that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city from the 8th floor of the building. On a clear day, you can even see the Alps from the glass walls of the restaurant, where you can also enjoy an appetizing breakfast buffet each morning.
There are two bars within the hotel: The Melhor Bar, swathed in red silk (also on the 8th floor with magnificent views at night) and The Light Bar in the lobby where Chef Christian Lherm serves finger food with wine and champagne.
Sofitel is a French luxury hotel chain managed by the Accor group (Europe’s largest hotel operator), which operates more than 3600 hotels on five continents. The company recently acquired 97 more hotels in Europe this month.
The Sofitel Lyon Bellecour was a wonderful base for exploring this captivating city. Our stay at the property was a week long yet our room was so comfortable we wish we had been able to stay longer.
IF YOU GO:
20 Quai Docteur Gailleton, 69002 Lyon, France
- Be sure to ask for a renovated room with a river view. It costs a bit more but is well worth the price.
- Visit The Melhor Bar for a relaxing nightcap at least once during your stay.
Disclosure: We received a media rate during our stay but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.
Also on More Time To Travel.com: